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Audio books

As more people turn away from traditional reading, and in particular, the use of tangible books, audiobooks are becoming more popular each year and for authors to regard this as a simple add-on would be naïve as evidence shows it will have a market of its own soon.

Self-published authors sell 300 million books a year, which is worth $1.25 billion. However, only 1% of the audiobooks on audible are by self-published writers.

In the last five years, audiobooks sales have increased by 50%, now representing almost 10% of all book sales. In the U.S. alone, this represents nearly $2 billion in revenue.

They are a rapidly growing segment of the book market, both in terms of production and sales. According to WordsRated, audiobooks generated over $5.38 billion in global revenue in 2022, and this figure is expected to increase by 26.4% annually until 2030, reaching $35.05 billion. The U.S. is the largest market for audiobooks.

I would be the first to warn self-published authors about the obstacles they will face if they wish to create an audiobook. First, you must make a judgement about how easy it is to convert your book to an audiobook. I have been reticent to do mine because I have many characters in my series. Most are Renaissance British, but from all over the country. Not that I mind having a go at several accents myself, but this is something ACX (Amazon’s audio version of KDP) will not allow you to do and it is quite difficult meeting all of their criteria. For audible you cannot change accents, only the intonation of your voice.

Where several people are talking in one scene, this takes some considerable skill. I should add that supposed actors who will take a percentage of your royalties on ACX (which can be 50%), may not be good enough for your work.

However, it is a very popular market, and I have had dozens of my readers asking me when the audiobook versions will be available. So, it remains a conundrum for me. But the statistics speak for themselves. There is plenty of money to be made from this growing audiobook audience.

How do you go about it?

There are several ways to turn your book into an audio book.

If you sign up for a scheme like audible (ACX), they will give you specific guidelines including db levels, how to split your book up into chapters and send separate files et cetera. I would argue the biggest hurdle is deciding who is going to read it.

One option is to hire a professional narrator or voice actor who can record the audio for you. You can find such services online or through platforms like ACX (you should find a link directly from your Amazon KDP account), which connects authors and narrators. Bear in mind that this can be expensive. ‘Performing’ a 100,000 word novel is a big venture and they will charge accordingly.

Another option is to record the audio yourself, using a good microphone and editing software. You will need to practice your voice, pronunciation, and pacing, and make sure the audio quality is clear and consistent. You can also use text-to-speech software, which converts your written text into spoken words. However, this option may not sound as natural or engaging as a human voice, and platforms like Amazon disapprove of it. Once you have your audio files ready, you can upload them to a distribution platform like Audible, iTunes, or Google Play, and set your price and royalties. You may also need to create an audio book cover and metadata to attract listeners.

If you are just starting to write or publish your first book and thinking about a second one, it’s still might not be the right time to think about an audiobook. You will need to see it almost writing a separate book (although you are not writing!) It will take plenty of time and you will certainly see your work in a different light. One thing I found was that it revealed parts dialogue that didn’t to work too well when spoken.

However, keep this on your job list. Remember, there is an audience out there, preferring an audiobook to what you are offering and, as ASPA develops, we will try to support and come up with new affordable ways in which this can be done.


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